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  • Documentary Filmmaking Alum Elaine Minionis Awarded Regional Emmy Award for “Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo”

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    NYFA is excited to celebrate Documentary Filmmaking alum Elaine Minionis joining the ranks of multiple creatives who have had the distinguished honor of being awarded an Emmy. The regional Emmy, awarded in late 2020 by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Suncoast Chapter, was for Minionis’ film Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo.

    The short documentary was produced by Minionis and was picked up for national broadcast by PBS. The film follows renowned Venezuelan visual artist, Mariana Monteagudo, who currently lives in Florida. The film especially captures Mariana’s creative process and her inspirations behind her intriguing, eerie doll sculptures, all made of repurposed materials. From following Mariana dumpster diving to visiting local thrift shops for useful material, Uncanny also touches on topics like immigration, consumerism, and more viewing them through the lens of contemporary art.

    Still from “Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo”

    “Coming from a strong family tradition of ceramists in Venezuela, Mariana loves giving a second life to objects that are discarded by our society,” shared Minionis on her personal Instagram. “Like a waste picker, she [Marina Monteagudo] walks around neighborhoods to salvage gems from people’s bulk trashes, rescuing textiles or baseball balls, plastic bottles of orange juice, or an old unkempt teddy bear. To her, everything has potential for inspiration and hybridism, and that’s the way she lives her life: continuously seeking, always resuscitating abandoned things, permanently combining and thinking ahead of time, and placing her faith into the most unimagined creations.”

    Also a native of Venezuela, Minionis got her start in the arts by writing poetry at a very young age. Her big break came in 2005 when she was one of a handful of winners selected for a national poetry contest, receiving as a reward a text publication with one of the most important literary houses in Venezuela (CELARG). As she grew up and continued to study, her love of photography and documentary became more clear.

    NYFA alum Elaine Minionis with her Emmy and one of Mariana Monteagudo’s dolls

    In 2006, the Emmy-winner saw her still photography work featured as part of the advertising for the 20th Century Fox production of Elipsis. In 2008, Minionis came to study Documentary Filmmaking in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory program. Of her experience, she shared that “non-fiction visual storytelling became an artistic and intellectual space” that allowed her to explore research and visual concepts of storytelling.

    After graduating, Minionis worked at the Brooklyn-based production company Flicker Flacker Films, as an intern and then the assistant editor for a History Channel feature-length documentary The Naturalized. She eventually became an independent producer at Discovery Networks Latin America/US Hispanics in the Original Production & Development Department.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Minionis on her Emmy win and is proud to count her amongst the NYFA alum ranks. We look forward to her future projects and wish her continued success.

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    February 19, 2021 • Acting • Views: 625

  • NYFA’s Q&A-List Welcomes President of MGM Motion Picture Group Pam Abdy

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    NYFA had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with the President of MGM’s Motion Picture Group, Pam Abdy, to discuss the film production process with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Abdy is the current President of MGM’s Motion Picture Group and oversees the development, production, and post-production for all MGM and Orion films. Abdy is currently developing a multitude of films such as Fiddler on The Roof, Project Hail Mary, and Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, amongst others.

    At her previous position, Makeready Films/eOne, the company financed and produced Queen & Slim from director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe and A Million Little Pieces from director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Previously, Abdy served as President of Production at New Regency, where they released the acclaimed Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Academy Award-winning Birdman, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, Adam McKay’s Academy Award-winning The Big Short, and Iñárritu’s The Revenant in 2016, which received twelve Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Pam Abdy (Right)

    Laiter began the conversation by asking Abdy what a day in the life of the President of MGM Motion Picture Group looks like. Abdy explained that most days consist of hours of Zoom meetings from pitching and financial planning to meetings with production staff and discussing forward slate planning. “It’s an all-encompassing job especially being at home with my daughter in the next room,” shared Abdy. “It’s a little chaotic, but that was just today. Every day is different.”

    Abdy, whose original plan to be a dancer got derailed by injury, got her first big break as Danny DeVito’s assistant, after working at the front desk at DeVito’s Jersey Films. “It was a life-changing opportunity for me,” she remembered. “He is a mentor to me and a second father. I learned how to make movies at that company and was given space to grow and they [the whole team] really taught me how to make films and be on set.”

    Sometimes the best education is watching and observing something Abdy does to this day, even as President at MGM Motion Picture Group. She urged NYFA students to remember that no job is too small to do no matter how many years of experience you have. “It doesn’t matter what I have to do. Every job is meaningful and nothing is beneath me,” said Abdy. “I will do whatever it takes to navigate a problem. I feel like some people think things are not their job, but to be a great producer, you have to manage so many different personalities and money. It’s an incredible responsibility that doesn’t get enough credit.”

    Part of being a great producer means being able to collaborate with the director, something Abdy mentioned as being one of the most important parts of putting a movie together and in production. “It’s everything to find the right director for your film,” she emphasized. “If it’s not the right director the film won’t have the right point of view. The best day of a producer’s life is getting the director on the movie, but it’s also the worst day because it becomes the director’s and you may not agree with everything they do. Your vision may not be their vision. But when that person comes on and they elevate that, there’s nothing better.”

    Pam Abdy (Left) with the cast and crew of “Queen & Slim”

    One of the career highlights for Abdy has been the vision of Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe, with whom she worked with on Queen & Slim. While on the film, Abdy learned a very important lesson that has stayed with her to this day. “I usually have to be part of everything and find solutions. That movie wasn’t about that. It was about creating a safe space and giving Melina and Lena the floor while I stand in the background to help navigate things as they needed them,” she began. “What was so joyful about that film is both of those women are such visionaries. Allow artists and visionaries to have the space to tell their stories. Don’t impose your own on their process. I learned about creating space for artists’ voices and it was the greatest joy of my career.”

    Abdy, like many others in the film industry, is continuing to adapt to the film industry facing restrictions due to the COVID pandemic. “Before, you hustled, made major movies, dealt with your budget, and put the movie together which – sometimes things took longer. Now, you don’t have the luxury of time anymore. You are locked down. If you are not working in a pod, then you leave the set. It’s not as fun,” she laughed. “Sometimes magic happens when you are making a film and I worry that the new rigidness may impact that work. There’s no answer right now as to when this part is going to stop, and it’s so expensive. What it’s doing is putting a burden on film budgets for COVID costs. There is a danger that good movies won’t get made because the cost is too burdensome.”

    Pam Abdy during promotion for Zach Braff’s “Garden State”

    One student asked Abdy how to become a better producer. Abdy urged them to get their hands on as many scripts as possible, even the one that got made already. “Study filmmakers. Filmmakers love to know their producers understand other filmmakers’ work. Take time and watch how filmmakers grow. See what changes. Watch the language and understand the common thread of their films throughout. Then, define your taste and identify what actually is your taste.”

    As Laiter closed the discussion and thanked Abdy for her generous wisdom, Laiter asked Abdy what has made her so successful in her career. Abdy replied it’s all the positives and the negatives about herself combined. “As I get older I recognize my flaws and I’m trying to do better with delegating. Be kind and be generous to everyone. This whole business is based on relationships and the experience of those relationships.”

    Abdy’s upcoming slate includes Joe Wright’s Cyrano, Ridley Scott’s Gucci, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin’s Dog, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled upcoming film. New York Film Academy would like to thank Pam Abdy for sharing her time and invaluable knowledge of the film business with NYFA students and looks forward to welcoming her back again in the near future.

    To watch the full conversation, click here or view the video below:

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    February 18, 2021 • Acting • Views: 490

  • Akinola Davies Jr. Awarded Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance For Film “Lizard”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Akinola Davies Jr. has won big at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Short Film Grand Jury Prize for his film Lizard.

    Sundance announcement of “Lizard” winning the Short Film Grand Jury Prize

    The film was written by Davies and his brother Wale Davies, and was backed by BBC Film and producer Rachel Dargavel. Lizard follows an eight-year-old girl, Juwon, who has the ability to sense danger. After getting ejected from a Sunday school service, Juwon witnesses the underbelly in and around a Mega Church in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to the Sundance win, the film was also nominated for an ALFS Award by the London Critics Circle Film Awards.

    Film poster for “Lizard”

    Davies has previously made short films Zazzau and Unity Is Strength. The UK-Nigerian filmmaker is known for his exploration of themes of community, race, spirituality, identity, and gender. Ultimately, through his work in film and music videos, Davies aims to navigate the collision of both colonial and imperial tradition, whilst advocating a return to indigenous narratives. His next slated project will be sci-fi film X Us.

    NYFA alum Akinola Davies Jr.

    “I’m overwhelmed and as much as I’d love to gloat, filmmaking is really crazy hard,” shared Davies on his Instagram after the winners were announced in a virtual ceremony. “Big love to all those who were part of the shorts program – it’s an honour to be amongst such brilliant films. I have to say this award is really for the whole cast and crew who worked so hard and committed their all to this little film pre and during a global pandemic. I’m so proud this was made in Lagos by the many hands that make up the beautiful people of Nigeria.”

    To view the full list of Sundance Film Festival winners, click here.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Akinola Davies Jr. on his important Grand Jury win at Sundance for his short film Lizard and looks forward to seeing the film’s impact and Davies’ upcoming projects.

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  • NYFA Alum Irene Mendez on Film Sustainability and a UN Campaign to Change The Film Production Landscape

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    Spanish producer Irene Mendez has always been interested in visual storytelling. With her degree in communications coupled with her education from NYFA’s 1-Year Producing Conservatory, Mendez is seeking change in the production space, aiming to make all media projects more sustainable across the industry. 

    Coming to NYFA, Mendez knew it would give her a new perspective on film production. “I’ve always thought it is essential to know and understand how movies are made in different countries, and I saw in NYFA the opportunity to do so,” she shared. “NYFA has some of the best professionals teachers, including instructors who have won BAFTAs and have been in some of the most important film festivals.”

    NYFA alum Irene Mendez

    From her time at NYFA, Mendez has learned that preproduction is the most essential part of any project. “Work before you get to the set. Study every possibility that might happen once you are filming,” she emphasized. “Be ready for any inconvenience. It is so vital to plan what might happen and be prepared for any kind of problem. It is funny cause it’s actually the same advice I will give to anyone who wants to make a more sustainable film.”

    Mendez first got involved in sustainability in filmmaking after attending Madrid’s Another Way Film Festival in Madrid, which focused on sustainable progress in filmmaking. “I realized that we can do much more. There are many things we can change to create the same entertainment content in a much better way,” urged Mendez. “We can tell the same great stories without hurting the planet and its future. Even more, we can help to be part of the change.”

    Mendez is now involved with Fiction Changing the World, an organization that specializes in sustainable audiovisual productions, working both in reducing the negative impact of productions and creating fiction and entertainment formats that convey important info about sustainable development to the viewers. “There is a lot of things that we can do when we work on a project to reduce the negatives impacts and create good ones. Not only on how we do things but also in how we tell the stories and entertain.”

    This past year, Mendez worked with Fiction Changing the World on a UN campaign to show the world that a new way to make content is possible. “Being part of the UN campaign and seeing Paloma Andres and Rhoda N. Wainwright (Founders of Fiction Changing the World) speak beside people with innovative ideas and famous names as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), makes you understand that we are not alone. There is a lot of people trying to be part of the change. Thousands of unique ideas can help us all to do our bit.”

    Fiction Changing the World has also started their campaign The Dante Movement, which focuses on creating fictional media that will inspire sustainable action and change in the world among others to do their part. “Documentaries are a wonderful way to bring attention to different topics, but they have a couple of problems when it comes to reaching the general public,” shared Mendez when asked why the fictional format is a better medium for the campaign as opposed to documentary filmmaking. 

    Irene Mendez on set

    “They [documentaries] often focus on particular topics, which is fine, but it is more difficult to get millions of people interested in very a specific issue. Also, documentaries are not always the first choice of entertainment for the general public. On the other hand, fiction is a format that is consumed by everyone on the planet; it leaves no one out. It is a more global and entertaining way to send a message and to educate and raise awareness.”

    “For example, I would dare to say that the vast majority of Spaniards of my generation know that water rotates in a different direction in each hemisphere thanks to an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart travels to Australia,” Mendez said. “Fiction is a way to reach every home. We all get motivated watching the Avengers fighting together against Thanos. In our universe, we can all unite to fight our own common enemy.”

    Though The Dante Movement is focused on fictional stories to get the message across to viewers, Fiction Changing the World still allows for other formats to be used to reach different people, like documentaries. In addition to working with the organization, Mendez has also been working on the TV series Foundation for Apple TV+ here in Spain, but what Mendez expressed she is most proud of is producing the first certified Positive Carbon Footprint spot for Greenpeace

     

    “This proves that it is possible to create sustainable content. We had to think from the script in how to make it more environmentally friendly way,” shared Mendez. “I had several meetings with the screenwriters and the production company to explain to them what are the points that make a film create more or fewer carbon emissions and what makes more negative impacts. They quickly understood what was needed and realized that thinking in a sustainable way doesn’t have to compromise the project’s creativity.” 

    As a lover of making films and the environment, Mendez is an advocate for change in the industry, working to make sets reduce their negative impact on the environment from issues like not recycling properly and consuming more on set than necessary. “The reality is that there are many more things we aren’t doing right. The material we use to build a set, the fabric to sew amazing costumes, and the places we choose to use as scenarios are decisions we can make to reduce the negative impact of production,” she explained. “Our responsibility as filmmakers is not solely to entertain, but also to inform and inspire our audiences. We have the power to reach every single soul, and we should use it.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Irene Mendez for taking the time to share more about the sustainability movement that is taking place on sets all over the world. With the urgency to act, filmmakers like Irene can continue to make a difference and be agents for change across the industry. NYFA looks forward to seeing what’s next from the alum and to hear more updates on Mendez’s mission for film sustainability. 

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  • NYFA Alum Lana Condor Stars in “To All The Boys: Forever and Always” on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Lana Condor returns as Lara Jean Covey in Netflix’s original film To All The Boys: Always and Forever. The film is the third and final installment in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series adapted from the novel series of the same name from Jenny Han.

    Lana Condor and Madeleine Arthur and in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    After attending Acting for Film at NYFA’s camps, Condor graduated high school and had her film debut as the popular mutant Jubilee in the summer blockbuster X-Men: Apocalypse. Immediately following, Condor appeared in the Mark Wahlberg thriller Patriots Day, co-starring alongside fellow NYFA alum Themo Melikidze. Condor has also appeared in Alita: Battle Angel, the TV series Deadly Class, and the coming-of-age film Summer Night.

    To All The Boys: Always and Forever will have fans seeing beloved character Lara Jean (Condor) faced with the difficult decision of what to do after she graduates high school and whether her future includes long-term boyfriend Peter, played by Netflix favorite Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Sierra Burgess is a Loser). From the film series beginning with 16-year old Lara Jean having her secret love letters go public to all of her crushes, to the unexpected twists along the way leading up to the third film, fans will have to say goodbye to Condor’s character as she closes her high school chapter.

    Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    What is the NYFA alum up to now that the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy has concluded? Condor is still booked and busy and will appear in the upcoming films Moonshot and the edgy comedy Girls Night. In her spare time, the actress has been known to share style and beauty tips on her social media channels and was most recently profiled by Vogue.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lana Condor for bringing the character Lara Jean Covey to life over the past few years and looks forward to her future roles in Hollywood and beyond. To All The Boys: Always and Forever will be available to stream on February 10, 2021, on Netflix.

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    February 10, 2021 • Acting, Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 570

  • NYFA Community Among Shortlist for 93rd Academy Awards

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    After teasing the annual announcement of shortlists for this year’s upcoming Oscar nominations, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally announced nine categories of shortlists on Tuesday afternoon. Included among the list in the Documentary Feature category was All In: The Fight For Democracy from NYFA alum and producer Lisa Cortés; Boys State from Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke; and Dick Johnson is Dead from Cinematographer instructor John Foster. 

    The shortlists for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced for: Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Visual Effects.

    NYFA alum Lisa Cortés

    Cortés co-directed and produced the documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy, released September 18, 2020, on Amazon Prime. The film follows Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and the struggle against voter suppression. As of February 10, 2021, the film holds an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been met with widespread critical claim with Kevin Crust from the Los Angeles Times writing “All In manages the triple-E feat of being entertaining, educational, and enlightening.” 

    This past year, Cortés attended the NYFA’s Rock The Vote Rally rally in October, where she brought a special sneak preview of Janelle Monae’s end-credit song, “Turntable,” song written exclusively for the film. Cortés also spoke about how her NYFA Producing education proved to be valuable in pulling together a project like All In during such challenging times. 

    Lisa Cortes, Lee Daniels, and Mo’Nique (Photo Credit: WireImage.com)

    The producing alum has had an extensive career prior to her success with All In. Cortés co-produced NYFA guest speaker Nicole Kassell’s film The Woodsman, co-directed The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion, produced The Apollo, and executive produced Academy Award-winning film Precious from Lee Daniels. 

     Documentary Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke was an additional cinematographer on the set of the shortlist contender Boys State from A24. The film follows an unusual annual experiment in Texas that joins together a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state to build a representative government from the ground up. The film won the U.S Documentary Competition Grand Jury at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to stream on Apple TV+.

    Shortlist contender Dick Johnson is Dead was worked on by Cinematographer instructor John Foster.  The documentary film directed by Kirsten Johnson focuses on Johnson’s father Richard, who suffers from dementia, portraying different ways—some of them violent “accidents”—in which he could ultimately die. The comedic and heartfelt film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-fiction Storytelling. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lisa Cortés, Claudia Raschke, and John Foster for their films making the 2021 Oscars Shortlist for Best Documentary Feature and wishes all the projects that made this year’s Academy shortlist the best of luck when the full list of nominations are announced on March 15, 2021.

    The full shortlists for each announced category can be found below:

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “Boys State”
    “Collective”
    “Crip Camp”
    “Dick Johnson Is Dead”
    “Gunda”
    “MLK/FBI”
    “The Mole Agent”
    “My Octopus Teacher”
    “Notturno”
    “The Painter and the Thief”
    “76 Days”
    “Time”
    “The Truffle Hunters”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

    DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

    “Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa”
    “Call Center Blues”
    “Colette”
    “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
    “Do Not Split”
    “Hunger Ward”
    “Hysterical Girl”
    “A Love Song for Latasha”
    “The Speed Cubers”
    “What Would Sophia Loren Do?”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Quo Vadis, Aida?”
    Chile, “The Mole Agent”
    Czech Republic, “Charlatan”
    Denmark, “Another Round”
    France, “Two of Us”
    Guatemala, “La Llorona”
    Hong Kong, “Better Days”
    Iran, “Sun Children”
    Ivory Coast, “Night of the Kings”
    Mexico, “I’m No Longer Here”
    Norway, “Hope”
    Romania, “Collective”
    Russia, “Dear Comrades!”
    Taiwan, “A Sun”
    Tunisia, “The Man Who Sold His Skin”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Emma”
    “The Glorias”
    “Hillbilly Elegy”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Little Things”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “One Night in Miami…”
    “Pinocchio”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

    “Ammonite”
    “Blizzard of Souls”
    “Da 5 Bloods”
    “The Invisible Man”
    “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “The Little Things”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Minari”
    “Mulan”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

    “Turntables” from “All In: The Fight for Democracy”
    “See What You’ve Done” from “Belly of the Beast”
    “Wuhan Flu” from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
    “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
    “Never Break” from “Giving Voice”
    “Make It Work” from “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”
    “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Io Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “Rain Song” from “Minari”
    “Show Me Your Soul” from “Mr. Soul!”
    “Loyal Brave True” from “Mulan”
    “Free” from “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”
    “Green” from “Sound of Metal”
    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILM

    “Burrow”
    “Genius Loci”
    “If Anything Happens I Love You”
    “Kapaemahu”
    “Opera”
    “Out”
    “The Snail and the Whale”
    “To Gerard”
    “Traces”
    “Yes-People”

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Bittu”
    “Da Yie”
    “Feeling Through”
    “The Human Voice”
    “The Kicksled Choir”
    “The Letter Room”
    “The Present”
    “Two Distant Strangers”
    “The Van”
    “White Eye”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
    “Bloodshot”
    “Love and Monsters”
    “Mank”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Mulan”
    “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Soul”
    “Tenet”
    “Welcome to Chechnya”

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    February 10, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 972

  • Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke Lenses Upcoming “FAUCI” Doc For National Geographic

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our instructors are not only teaching the next wave of filmmakers and creatives alike but are out focusing on their own work and setting up the shot for the next big film. In this case, veteran cinematographer Claudia Raschke is no different, having lensed yet another prominent documentary film, FAUCI from National Geographic Documentary Films. 

    The New York-based Documentary Filmmaking instructor is known for shooting the Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning documentary RBG, the Oscar-nominated film God is Bigger Than Elvis, the Peabody Award-winning film Black Magic, the Oscar short-listed Mad Hot Ballroom, The Freedom to Marry, and many more. 

    Behind the scenes of “FAUCI” (National Geographic Documentary Films)

    Her latest project will see Raschke as the DP on the highly anticipated documentary FAUCI, directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias. The film will follow epidemiologist and famed White House COVID-19 pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, offering a glimpse into his career and life as a public servant who has advised seven U.S presidents from the start of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s through SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19. 

    There is no release date yet for the film as it was just announced on February 4, 2021, with special appearances listed like Bono, former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, and more.

    NYFA instructor Claudia Raschke on set

    Raschke’s year is just getting started, as her feature documentary work on My Name is Pauli Murray recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and the 2021 premiere of Julia (CNN /Imagine Entertainment) on the horizon. Raschke’s new spy documentary, Codebreaker, aired this past January and is currently streaming after airdate on PBS’ American Experience.

    “Capturing the big and the small moments of the amazing world we live in feeds my passion for the art of cinematography. Equally important is that I bear witness to and document the unique stories that unfold before my eyes in a way that dismantles barriers, opens doors, and reveals the truth. I believe that filming intuitively, honestly and without inhibition is a journey that requires a compassionate heart and the ability to see and hear what lies beneath the surface.” – Claudia Raschke, DP

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking’s Documentary Division Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke on all of her upcoming projects and looks forward to sharing more about the FAUCI documentary upon its release later in 2021. 

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  • The 2021 Golden Globes Winners

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    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced the nominees for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards. With an NBC semi-virtual ceremony set to take place on February 28, return hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will no doubt bring the laughs at the expense of this year’s list of nominees; and with many heavyweight shows left out of this year’s nominations due to production delays, this year’s nominations brought many snubs, surprises, and inevitable recognition for many.

    Netflix dominated this year’s Golden Globes, receiving six nominations apiece for David Fincher’s Hollywood bygone era film Mank and binge-worthy drama series The Crown. Also leading nominations for Netflix was Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of The Chicago 7, featuring a stacked cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, and more.

    The film, produced by NYFA Screenwriting alum Shivani Rawat, is based on the infamous 1969 trial in which seven individuals faced multiple charges including conspiracy after counterculture protests took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

    Kelvin Harrison Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Mark Rylance (Netflix)

    The Trial of The Chicago 7 earned five nominations total including the coveted Best Motion Picture – Drama category for Rawat (alongside The Father, Mank, Nomadland, & Promising Young Woman). The film’s other nominations included a supporting actor nod for Sacha Baron Cohen, both best director and screenplay acknowledgments for Aaron Sorkin, and a nomination for best original song for “Hear My Voice” by Daniel Pemberton.

    Shivani Rawat at an event for The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village (2020)

    Rawat attended NYFA’s 1-Year Screenwriting program at the New York campus in 2007. She has since become a film producer with a special focus on independent films. Some of her credits include critically acclaimed films like Captain Fantastic, Danny Collins, Trumbo, and Brian Banks. In addition to The Trial of The Chicago 7, Rawat also produced the 2020 film Wander Darkley starring Diego Luna and Sienna Miller. Her next release, The Ice Road, starring Liam Neeson, is expected to be released later this year.

    Al Pacino in “Hunters” (Amazon Prime Video)

    Included in the nominations were NYFA guest speakers Al Pacino, who received a nod for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Hunters), alongside The Mandalorian’s Carl Weathers; Glenn Close for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Hillbilly Elegy); and Bryan Cranston for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Your Honor).

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of this year’s nominees and wishes Shivani Rawat and the cast and crew of The Trial of The Chicago 7 all the best during the upcoming award ceremony. The winners will be announced on February 28, 2021.

    View the full list of 2021 Golden Globes nominations below:

    Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

    “Emily in Paris” (Netflix)

    “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max)

    “The Great” (Hulu)

    “Schitt’s Creek” (CBC) – Winner

    “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

    Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)

    Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)

    Al Pacino (“Hunters”)

    Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)

    Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Normal People”)

    Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)

    Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”)

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) – Winner

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)

    Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

    Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

    Kate Hudson (“Music”)

    Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”)

    Rosamund Pike (“I Care a Lot”) – Winner

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“Emma”)

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

    Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) – Winner

    Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)

    Gary Oldman (“Mank”)

    Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”)

    Best Television Series – Drama 

    “The Crown” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max)

    “The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)

    “Ozark” (Netflix)

    “Ratched” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama 

    Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)

    Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”)

    Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Laura Linney (“Ozark”)

    Sarah Paulson (“Ratched”)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Bryan Cranston (“Your Honor”)

    Jeff Daniels (“The Comey Rule”)

    Hugh Grant (“The Undoing”)

    Ethan Hawke (“The Good Lord Bird”)

    Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”) – Winner

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) – Winner

    James Corden (“The Prom”)

    Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”)

    Dev Patel (“The Personal History of David Copperfield”)

    Andy Samberg (“Palm Springs”)

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

    Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) – Winner

    Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)

    Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)

    Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

    Best Motion Picture – Drama 

    “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    “Mank” (Netflix)

    “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

    Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) – Winner

    Jared Leto (“The Little Things”)

    Bill Murray (“On the Rocks”)

    Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture 

    “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat

    “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) – Ludwig Göransson

    “News of the World” (Universal Pictures) – James Newton Howard

    “Mank” (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

    “Soul” (Pixar) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste – Winner

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”)

    Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”)

    Elle Fanning (“The Great”)

    Jane Levy (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”)

    Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) – Winner

    Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    “Normal People” (Hulu/BBC)

    “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Small Axe” (Amazon Studios/BBC)

    “The Undoing” (HBO)

    “Unorthodox” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    John Boyega (“Small Axe”) – Winner

    Brendan Gleeson (“The Comey Rule”)

    Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”)

    Donald Sutherland (“The Undoing”)

    Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios) – Winner

    “Hamilton” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Palm Springs” (Neon)

    “Music” (Vertical Entertainment)

    “The Prom” (Netflix)

    Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture 

    Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

    Olivia Colman (“The Father”)

    Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”) – Winner

    Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)

    Helena Zengel (“News of the World”)

    Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language 

    “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

    “La Llorona” (Shudder)

    “The Life Ahead” (Netflix)

    “Minari” (A24) – Winner

    “Two of Us” (Magnolia Pictures)

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture 

    Emerald Fennell – “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    Jack Fincher – “Mank” (Netflix)

    Aaron Sorkin – “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Winner

    Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton – “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    Chloe Zhao – “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”)

    Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)

    Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”) – Winner

    Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)

    Julia Garner (“Ozark”)

    Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Cynthia Nixon (“Ratched”)

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture

    “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) – H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas

    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton, Celeste

    “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi – Winner

    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ashworth

    “Tigress & Tweed” from “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” (Hulu) – Andra Day, Raphael Saadiq

    Best Motion Picture – Animated 

    “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal Pictures)

    “Onward” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Over the Moon” (Netflix)

    “Soul” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Winner

    “Wolfwalkers” (Cartoon Saloon)

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    February 3, 2021 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1571

  • NYFA Welcomes Producers of Military Docuseries “Ten Weeks” to NYFA’s Q&A-List

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    NYFA had the privilege of hosting a live video Q&A with the co-founder of We Are the Mighty, David Gale, Medal of Honor recipient & Chair of NYFA’s Veteran Advancement Program Col. Jack Jacobs, and We Are The Mighty (WATM) Chief Content Officer and director Chase Millsap. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    David Gale is an executive and award-winning producer who is currently serving as the Exe.VP of Development and Production at Gunpowder & Sky. Before joining G&S, Gale co-founded and was CEO of WATM, a media brand focused on hiring and telling the stories of our military veterans. Gale oversaw the release of 28 films when he was at MTV Films, including Varsity Blues, Save The Last Dance, The Longest Yard, Election, Hustle and Flow, and the cultural phenomenon Napoleon Dynamite.

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Chase Millsap, David Gale, and Col. Jack Jacobs

    Chase Millsap produced the short film, The Captain’s Story, in collaboration with National Geographic to highlight the struggles faced by America’s wartime allies. His work has been featured in National Geographic, The Huffington Post and he has appeared on Buzzfeed and CNN International. Millsap is the Chief Content Officer at WATM and has helmed digital, social, film, and television projects for Warner Brothers Studios, CBS Studios, Netflix, and Blumhouse Productions.

    Col. Jack Jacobs served in Vietnam twice; both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, earning three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration. After Jacobs’ retirement, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust and now serves as the Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program at the New York Film Academy. Jacobs also serves as an on-air analyst for NBC News and he is also the co-author of the memoir, If Not Now, When?, which won the Colby Award.

    Rhett Cutrell filming Army trainee Stormy Gideons on the set of “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap, Gale, and Col. Jacobs discussed the making of their series from Blumhouse TV/We Are The Mighty docuseries Ten Weeks. The series, inspired by Col. Jacobs’ book Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training, is a docuseries that follows a cohort of recruits in their journey from untested, young adults to soldiers during basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Though the docuseries Ten Weeks was originally supposed to be released on Quibi, the series will be available to stream on Roku devices in 2021.

    Ten Weeks (named for the length of basic training) would not have been possible without the support of the U.S. Army, which colonel Jack Jacobs brought in to collaborate throughout the process. Millsap explained that it was a documentary, but it had to have a plan in place: it meant knowing the limits of production each day while on set as it was an active training ground with real challenges, safety concerns, and a rigorous approval process for certain shots. But it was all worth it.

    Army Trainees Trinity Carpenter and Stormy Gideons about to receive their banner during “The Anvil” (Photo courtesy of Blumhouse TV / Quibi)

    “Going through boot camp is an experience most people don’t experience or get to see,” shared Jacobs. “It’s the backstory of national defense.” Gale agreed and added the project “is by veterans for veterans so you can’t understate the importance of the series and also give credit to the Army for giving us the opportunity to use this space.”

    While Ten Weeks is by veterans like Millsap and Col. Jacobs, David Gale, who has been in the film business for many years co-founded WATM because he didn’t see many veterans in higher positions throughout the filmmaking industry. “There is so much talent in the military community and when they leave there are few outlets for them to go into in entertainment,” he shared. Col. Jacobs, who spearheads NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, added that many across the industry don’t realize how talented are those who serve and what they can accomplish. “[At NYFA], it’s an opportunity to hone what they know and learned in uniform to the arts.”

    Army trainee Stormy Gideons and Drill Sergeant Stewart being filmed by Rhett Cutrell on set for “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap knows all too well the challenges that one can face when transitioning from the military to the film industry. “I spent over a decade in uniform and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I leaned into what I was passionate about,” shared Millsap. “In the military, it’s very easy to see what someone’s job is or what they do. As you think about your next step, your creative work is going to be your calling card. You’ve got to spend your time learning the skill set and reading and watching. Study what’s on the screen to figure out how it was made.”

    Millsap and Col. Jacobs, like so many veterans in the entertainment and film industry, are aiming to make military stories exude authenticity and provide more opportunities to veterans looking to break in. Col. Jacobs advised, “No matter what you’re doing, you have to be prepared for some measure of rejection, but you have to keep working at it and it (the project) has to speak to you.”

    (L-R) Army trainee/soldiers Leo Eades, Joshua Oller, Stormy Gideons, Trinity Carpenter, and Riley Barnard on graduation day (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Laiter thanked the distinguished producers for the series that will open up another world in an authentic and compelling way.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank David Gale, Col. Jack Jacobs, and Chase Millsap for sharing their time and expertise with students and the NYFA community. For more information on veteran opportunities at New York Film Academy, click here.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

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    February 2, 2021 • Acting • Views: 1335

  • Filmmaking Alum Eva Gonzalez Szigriszt Attached as Writer For Facebook Watch’s “Woman in The Book” Animated Horror Series

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    Screenwriter and Director Eva Gonzalez Szigriszt grew up in Spain with her musician parents and a grandfather, who directed TV and theater for many years. Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Gonzalez Szigriszt explored the theater world, eventually finding her way to film and television. From packing her bags in 2011 to study at New York Film Academy to pursuing multiple projects years later, the NYFA alum has now bagged the writing gig for Facebook Watch’s animated horror series Woman in The Book.

    After graduating from NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking program in Los Angeles, Gonzalez Szigriszt scored internships in the development departments of Bold Films (Drive, Whiplash, Nightcrawler) and Vendôme Pictures (Source Code, Larry Crowne, What Happened to Monday?). “It was after reading many scripts and writing coverage for the companies that I really fell in love with screenwriting,” gushed Gonzalez Szigriszt. “I wrote my first TV series and got the attention of a manager, which is how I got my first project optioned.”

    After developing more material over the course of a few years, Gonzalez Szigriszt got signed by one of the largest talent agencies in the world, Agency for the Performing Arts (APA). “My agent did a great job sending my scripts out and he got me some good general meetings with production companies,” she shares. “Now I am working on several projects with people that I have admired for so long.”

    She recently penned the first animated horror drama for Facebook Watch (from Crypt TV) called Woman in The Book. “This was an open writing assignment. So, I was going for the job as did many other writers and I was asked to come up with a take on the concept the company had developed and pitch it,” she recalls. “I ended up getting the gig! The show stars Diane Guerrero (DC’s Doom Patrol and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black). It is a LatinX show that uses both English and Spanish and follows three estranged siblings who reunite at an aging Mexican hacienda to discuss their inheritance, but they inadvertently unleash a book-bound horror that has plagued their family for generations. I can’t tell much more as the project has not come out yet. It is set to be released on Facebook Watch some time by the end of next year.”

    Eva Gonzalez Szigriszt

    The alum also has a science fiction TV series coming soon that was just bought by an unnamed big studio with Gonzalez Szigriszt, herself, attached as an executive producer alongside the creators and executive producers of Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. She also has an original sci-fi TV series in the pipeline with producer Lloyd Levin (Hellboy, Watchmen, Lara Croft series), and Gonzalez Szigriszt will also be co-directing a feature film she wrote called Turn. As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, she is developing an epic sci-fi animated series with “one of the most amazing Executive Producers in the TV animation world” and is developing a couple of additional projects in Spain

    It’s safe to say that she is booked and busy. Reflecting on all the events leading up to this point in her life, Gonzalez Szigriszt reveals that NYFA is one of the reasons why she was quick to navigate the film business.

    “What NYFA offers, that most of the other film schools don’t, is a hands-on approach to filmmaking. The fast-paced environment (I remember shooting at least one short movie or scene a week), the easy access to equipment and facilities… It all helped classmates and me improve our skills by doing it, not just dreaming it. Having to meet so many deadlines, working fast but without sacrificing any quality…that strengthened the work ethic I apply to any of my projects today.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Screenwriting alum Eva Gonzalez Szigriszt for her new writing credit for Facebook Watch’s Woman in The Book and looks forward to the news and releases of her upcoming film and television projects.

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    January 29, 2021 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1120